We're Leeds United, we spy when we want!
Wednesday, 16th Jan 2019 22:40 by Tim Whelan
Marcelo Bielsa has revealed he has sent a member of staff to watch every team we have played this season in training, so Derby County are nothing special.
When our Argentinian supremo announced an extra press conference today, some media outlets started to speculate that he was about to announce his resignation over the ‘spygate’ affair. But any sense of panic we might have felt was quickly dispelled by a tweet from Pontus Jansson to ask a journalist if it was "already 1 April in your office?"
In fact Bielsa had called the conference to explain the lengths he goes to analyse the opposition before matches, to emphasise that he didn’t really need any additional information he could get from spying, and that he only did it because of his obsessive attention to detail.
"I observed all the rivals we played against and watched the training sessions of all opponents," he said. All the information I need to clarify, I gather it without watching the training session of the opponent, so why did I send someone to watch them? Just because I thought I wasn't violating the norm. I gathered information that I can obtain in another way.”
"We feel guilty if we don't work enough. It [watching the opponents train] allows us to have less anxiety and in my case I am stupid enough to allow this kind of behaviour." He stressed that what he had done was not illegal, and of course it wasn’t, because the staff member sent to Derby didn’t trespass on their property and didn’t cause any damage to their property.
But he accepted that he will have to "respect the sanctions" that the FA or EFL may bring against him or the club. He then went onto give a PowerPoint presentation to show just how much preparation he and his staff make before each and every game. They begin by analysing footage of each and every one of opponents' previous matches this season, which takes up to four hours per game.
They use it to draw up statistics including the percentage of games in which they used certain formations, which players were used in which positions and which formations they had struggled against this season. Bielsa showed colour charts illustrating different cycles in the season for the teams and then he would break it down into set-pieces and who should mark who.
But because the players haven’t got quite a big enough attention span, they had to break it down into 10 to 15-minute clips for the players! Things have certainly moved on from the days of Don Revie’s famous dossiers on our opponents, which his Leeds team used to good effect and were thought to be very detailed and advanced at the time.
Bielsa also said that when he was managing Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish league, Pep Guardiola once told him “you know more about my side than I do” after one game against Barcelona. And he also announced his staff have analysed every one of Luton Town’s games this season, to get an insight into the methods of Stoke’s new manager before our next game on Saturday.
The whole point was to stress that we put so much preparation into each game that it's almost an insult to suggest that by watching a training session they gain an unfair advantage. He closed the press conference by saying “I was stupid because he didn't need all this information, but I'm not cheating. I knew everything I needed to know."
But whether the FA or the Football League will take any notice of any of this is entirely another matter.
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